By Scott Spangler
It’s funny how perception tends to change drastically after each contest of a seven-game series. Thursday Oklahoma City took Game 2 in Dallas and the series took a turn as the Thunder seized homecourt advantage.
Then in Game 3, it was the Mavericks winning one on the Road at the Ford Center, reclaiming homecourt. So naturally, the talk today in Dallas centered on putting the WCF to bed in five games.
And should OKC respond with a win this evening, we have a best-of-three and all the pressure is on the Mavs again. That’s the nature of playoff basketball. Not quite as dramatic as hockey, but you get the idea.
As for the adjustments coaches are required to make during the course of these series, those, too, can vary greatly from game to game. Despite slow starts in each of the first three games against Dallas, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks has vowed not to alter his starting lineup
That means keeping Kendrick Perkins on the floor, which has been an issue in matching up against Maverick center Tyson Chandler. Perkins is still not at 100 percent (knee) and running with Chandler has been a problem.
To this point against the Mavericks, OKC is minus-32 with Perkins on the floor and plus-23 with him on the bench. He has not been much of a defensive presence vs. Dallas, and his lack of offensive game doesn’t help on the other end.
Saturday night, Dallas was running an extra defender at OKC wing scorers, allowing screeners to go free most of the night. The Mavericks obviously do not respect the ability of Perkins to make them pay for doubling the ball.
There is the notion Oklahoma City should go with a smaller lineup, but Brooks has been reluctant to do so in the past, usually as a last resort. It might come down to that tonight.